The Art of Fathering
© April 2006 by Asher Intrater
Of all the ways God would have chosen to describe Himself He picked "Father." The heart of a loving father is the closest thing to the true nature of God. Yeshua spoke to God in prayer with intimacy and trust, as a son would speak to his dad:
The Hebrew for father of course is Abba. When I pray with my children and close my eyes, I cannot discern at the first few words when they say Abba, if they are talking to me or addressing God in prayer.
Note: In Hebrew, letters are also numbers. Words have a three-letter root. Father is actually A-B-A, or in letter-number code, 1-2-1. "Digitally-speaking," it is the most basic root that can be formed mathematically.
In the nature of God we see intimacy, authority, wisdom, patience, generosity, a desire to play, provide and protect, and a willingness to self-sacrifice. There is a deep satisfaction in the heart of God to spend time and communicate with His children. He is happy when we are just with Him.
In Genesis 22:1 Abraham is challenged to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, whom he loved, for the sake of world redemption. In John 3:16, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to save all who would believe. In both these passages, a little more emphasis is placed on the father giving the sacrifice than the son being sacrificed. Well, a father would understand that.
I'm sure both God and Abraham would have traded places immediately with their sons. They would have preferred to take the pain themselves. When David realized that his sinful and rebellious son Avshalom had been hanged on a tree and pierced, he cried out, "O My son Avshalom--My son, my son Avshalom--if only I had died in your place!" (II Samuel 18:33). How much more so was God's heart torn at the sight of the crucifixion!
True biblical covenant faith starts with Abraham - "Father Abraham." As God looked over eternity at all the souls of men who were to be created, the man with the instinct and inclination closest to His own heart as a father was Abraham. But God wanted more. He wanted to "squeeze the juice" of the fathering spirit from this man in order to impart it by faith to all generations.
God's "squeeze" had three steps:
That test from God makes me squirm; Abraham's faithfulness gives me awe.
And what about the son (both Isaac and Yeshua)? What did Isaac see in his dad that enabled him to climb up on that altar in perfect trust knowing he was about to be slaughtered? I believe the answer is in two words: Integrity and Intimacy.
Isaac knew how true Abraham's love was for God; how Abraham would only want what was good for Isaac. He knew of his gentleness and generosity. He knew his dad's faith in God was deep, healthy, and secure. He was not a religious fanatic, but a man of covenant loyalty. The trustworthiness of his dad's heart was more real to him than the knife in his hand.
I believe a little bit of that father-son intimacy was passed down from generation to generation and made it to me from my dad. I hope that same "essence" of fathering is going on to my children, and to our spiritual sons and daughters as well. I believe it is also passed on to every true spirit-filled believer in any nation or ethnic group. It is the "stuff" of the covenant.
God refers to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is not just the God of the three of them, but also the God of covenant love as expressed in their father-son relationships.
Being a good father is the most important task in the world. It is more than a science; it is an art. I don't have much artistic talent; but I pray that this one aspect of the artwork of God would work through me.
Much satanic attack is aimed at perverting the image of true fathering. Both of the world dominating spirits of the end times (the Beast and the Whore) hinders the ability of men to become spiritual fathers. Sexual immorality, violence, greed, ambition, religiosity, Jezebel spirits, etc. - all destroy the trust of potential spiritual sons and daughters. That erosion of trust started with the first lie, "Did God really say..."? (Genesis 3:1).
An orphaned and alienated generation is crying out for spiritual fathers.
The art of fathering is just as much at work in discipleship and mentoring as it is in a physical family. Paul referred to Timothy as his "son" in the faith (Philippians 2:22, I Timothy 1:2, II Timothy 1:2, 2:1) as well as Onesimus (Philemon 1:10). He referred to his own pastoral work as a father (I Corinthians 4:17, I Thessalonians 2:11). So did John (I John 2:1, 18) and Peter about his disciple Mark (I Peter 5:13).
The fatherhood of God, Yeshua's own relationship with the Father, Abraham's heart, the ministry of the apostles - should be operative and alive in everything we do. It is the central axis of the kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13). May we be good children to our heavenly father (Proverbs 10:1), and may we be good spiritual parents to the children and disciples He has given us.
Note: The inspiration for this article came to me during the night of March 23, 2006, which I realized afterwards is the date of my dad's birthday, who went on to be with the Lord seven years ago.
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